Mint is an aromatic herb which can have a number of uses in the kitchen. We are, perhaps, most familiar with peppermint and spearmint, but there are actually a huge range of different mints to choose from – why not give a few of them a go in your polytunnel? Chocolate mint, apple mint, pineapple mint and ginger mint are just some of the intriguing options.
Mint is usually grown from young plants, purchased in the spring and once in place in your polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden, should thrive and can quickly spread to provide useful ground cover, perhaps, for other crops growing nearby. Mint has the ability to repel a number of insect pests and so could be a good companion plant. It is said to be especially beneficial when planted near members of the cabbage family as it will repel cabbage flies. Since it is said to also control ants and aphids, mint can really be helpful to a wide range of crop plants that you may have in your polytunnel.
You could grow mint in a container if you are worried about the extent to which it can spread. It can be grown in pots or hanging baskets. You can also keep mint in a bed or border contained by placing round it in the ground a container with the bottom removed. Make sure the lip of the sawn off container protrudes above the ground slightly as this will prevent the shoots from escaping over the top and mint popping up where you do not want it. You can grow as much or as little mint as you have the space for, which makes it an ideal choice to make sure you are filling each and every corner of your polytunnel and making the very most of the space at your disposal.
Plant your mint some time between March and May and you can be harvesting mint all summer long and perhaps even right through into October. Picking your mint regularly is essential to keep bushes compact and to make sure that plenty of new shoots are encouraged to grow. Mints are best used fresh (each has its own more specific uses, some more suited to culinary use than others). However, if you have an overabundance, or want to save some mint for use over the winter months then it is possible to chop mint and place with water in ice cube trays. Whenever you need some mint for a recipe, you can then simply knock out as many frozen mint cubes as you require and add them to your cooking pot.